Phone call from the teacher!

My 3rd grade son's teacher called last night. I was worried for a moment, but she wasn't calling about his behavior. She was calling the parents of all the kids in his reading group to tell them about the book she had just assigned: The Giver, by Lois Lowry. This book, she told me, was written for 5th-8th graders (yes, Son of Bookworm is in the advanced reading group) and it has mature themes. Well, one mature theme. Euthanasia. Was it okay with me if Joey reads this book? It's so hard to find books that are at their reading level and their age level. The school librarian suggested it. And the kids had already read the first couple of chapters. (In fact, Joey had mentioned it at dinner yesterday. He was very excited about this cool book he had just started.)

Well, that question was a no-brainer. Of course he can read it! He can read anything he wants, as far as I'm concerned. I cannot imagine censoring his reading. Not in a million years. Movies, videos, computer games -- that's a whole nother story. But books? Uh-uh. And that's what I told the teacher. Then I cleverly suggested that maybe I should read the book along with the class. Ostensibly this was so I could discuss it with Joey in case he has "issues," but actually it's because the way Joey described it, the book sounded really good.

And it is really good! It's extremely suspenseful speculative fiction -- full of details similar to Oryx & Crake. I'm on chapter 5; I'll write more about it when I finish it.

By the way, I realize now that I had been confusing Lois Lowry with Lois Lenski. I had been trying to picture in my mind how the author of Strawberry Girl could possibly have written a young adult novel about euthanasia.

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I was so happy to get all those nice comments about the new look. If Sharon likes it, I guess it can't be that bad. Thanks, everyone!


  • Hey! I had those two authors mixed up, too! I loved Lois Lenski's books.

    I did one of those "which book are you" quizzes several months ago, and "The Giver" came back as my answer. I still haven't read it, though.

    posted by Blogger Suzanne on 9:32 AM  

  • The Giver is indeed an incredible book, one of the best Newbery winners in recent history. I don't know if I'd suggest it for 3rd graders, since I think much of the book will be totally over their head (it's normally taught in 5, 6, or 7th grade)but if they are enjoying it more power to them!

    Lois Lenski wrote wonderful regional books, but she's been dead for some time now. Lowery is still writing and has written a sequel to the Giver. Wait till you get to the last chapter!

    posted by Blogger GuusjeM on 9:14 PM  

  • I've done the same thing vis a vis Lenski/Lowry. And though I tried to like Lenski's books for kids (I love her drawing) NOTHING EVER HAPPENS. They are so boring.

    I am interested in your liberal attitudes toward reading. I remember reading a lot of things in 5th-8th grade (Go Ask Alice, Stephanie Can't Come Out To Play, Summer to Die) that really made me anxious about the world. A bloody booger makes me think leukemia and I never so much as smoked a cigarette for fear of that slippery slope into base addiction.

    Of course, maybe it's a chicken and egg thing. Perhaps I was an anxious kid who sought reinforcement of my perceived scary world in fiction.

    Thoughts, psychoanalyst?

    Can kids learn to fear the world by reading material that they aren't psychologically/emotionally sophisticated enough to deal with?

    posted by Blogger doulicia on 2:16 PM  

  • by the way, I never commented on the blog. I am very impressed and will have to find out how you did this. I still haven't figured out how to post a "blogroll" down the side, let alone redesign my masthead.

    Nicely done, Bookworm.

    posted by Blogger doulicia on 2:17 PM  

  • Suzanne, you should be flattered. This book was really terrific. Complex, nuanced, well-written, thought- provoking. I was very impressed with it. I don't have one single complaint or criticism, and I can almost always come up with something to carp about!

    Guusje, I think you're right that a lot of it will be over their heads, though I'll try to have some good conversations with my son about it. It's kind of a shame to give it to them now, because by the time they're old enough to read it, they'll have "already read it" and might not want to pick it up again.

    posted by Blogger Julie on 9:53 PM  

  • Lenski's regional stories - Strawbery Girl, Judy's Journey were very much ahead of their time and are still very enjoyable. She wrote about poverty, racial issues and dysfuncional families when the rest of the world was embracing Dick & Jane and Leave it to Beaver was the ideal family. I never, even as a child care for her picture books - Cowboy Sam et. al. Those were/ are boring.

    posted by Blogger GuusjeM on 11:24 PM  

  • Wow. I haven't thought about Strawberry Girl since third grade! I enjoyed it then. I'll have to reread it from an adult's perspective.

    posted by Blogger mrsd on 10:58 AM  

  • I agree. Any book that challenges a child, while being interesting, should not be off-limits.

    posted by Blogger Nicolette on 2:43 AM  

  • Nothing ever happens in Lois Lenski's books??? Anyone here read "Indian Captive"? Oy.

    Julie, good for you for letting your son read anything he wants!

    posted by Blogger liz on 10:44 AM